2023 Garden Journal

Dear Liza,

Well, a new year in the garden means a new garden journal.

This year, I am using a calendar book that Auntie Bridgett had laying around. After making my journal from scratch two years running, it was time for something new.

I painted the front with acrylics and have decorated the inside with acrylic color scraping (with an old credit card) and writing, using yellow, blue, sea foam green, and some metallic silver. And watercolor.

And a little collage for fun.

I wrote the first page on March 15, knowing it was too early, too cold and too wet to plant. Besides, we were heading out for our big vacation.

Two weeks later, when we returned from cold, dry, windy Denmark, we found cold, wet and windy Portland waiting for us. The dark blue page is hard to read, but really showed my mood. The cartoon is from a Dutch magazine, and asks if it is STILL raining, or raining AGAIN.

On April 20, my Spring Fever could wait no longer. I pulled out the wagon, bundled up, and slogged through some real rain to Portland Nursery.

I’ve decided to keep the receipts from things I buy for the garden, so I can see how much my “free” veggies are costing me.

And fittingly enough, Saturday was Earth Day! So after we chatted, I put the red oak leaf lettuces and dahlias in the ground.

Here’s the reality and my watercolor interpretation of the lettuce bed.


Grandma Judy

Garden Journals for Spring

Dear Liza,

We are coming up on spring, and I am making my garden journal for this year. At the end of this month I will be pulling the burlap off my garden plot in the Blair Community Garden, and I want to be ready to write it all down!

Besides the usual encouragement from Ruth Inman and Bridgett Spicer, I am using “Making Books by Hand” by Mary McCarthy and Philip Manna as a guide.

First, I used the heavy backing of sketch pads for my covers, and layered some thinner tagboard with Mod Podge to make the spine. I glued these down to a nice canvas fabric, put a pile of books on them, and went for a walk. The canvas allows the heavy covers to bend properly.

When the spine was dry I covered the cover with some pretty paper, mitering the corners and folding them inside.

While these dried, I cut the paper for the pages. Each signature, or group of pages, takes four sheets of paper, folded in half. I gave them a nice sharp crease with the edge of my metal ruler.

I used a trick from Ruthie to make my measuring device for where to put the stitches in the signatures. A strip of paper as long as my pages are high, folded in half, then each end folded to the center, makes a perfect guide for three holes without nit-picky measuring.

Poking the holes through all the pages with a steel artist’s tack before you sew makes everything easier. Sew the four sheets of each signature together with a strong thread.

I made five signatures because the spine of my book was wide enough to accommodate them. This will be my thickest book yet!

Again, use the steel tack to poke holes for each sewing point. Then sew each signature into the spine with a heavy thread. I used embroidery floss. This is a bit fiddly, but you will get better with practice.

The trickiest bit is making the knot tight. This is easier if you have a friend put their finger on the knot for you while you pull it tight. Trim the ends of the thread short.

Once the signatures are sewn in, apply glue thinly to each of the inside covers and lay the first and last pages against them, pressing the air bubbles out so they are smooth. This will stabilize the book and hold everything together. Put weights on these and wait a few hours.

The last step is to cover the inside covers with pretty paper. Press these flat and let everything dry overnight.

And there it is, my Garden Journal for this year! C’mon, Spring!


Grandma Judy